J-1 Cultural Exchange Requirement
The J-1 exchange visitor visa was created with the primary purpose of enabling cultural exchange between the United States and other nations, thereby “building mutual understanding between Americans and people of other countries.” Cross-cultural exchange activities are an essential part of the University’s J-1 exchange visitor program and of our continued ability to sponsor exchange visitors across campus.
To comply with the federal regulatory requirements of the exchange visitor program, all sponsoring units must have plans in place to offer cross-cultural exchange opportunities to J-1 exchange visitors and their J-2 dependents. The Department of State has given the following as examples of appropriate exchange activities:
- “Talk about the American culture/history of philanthropy and volunteerism and then arrange a day of volunteer work with a local charity.
- Talk about the American economy, crafts and trade, and then plan a day at a county fair and/or a local trade show. Meet the local farmers, small business owners, crafts people.
- Talk about American sports and recreation, then pick a sport to teach visitors to play, creating a league with competitive games. Go to a game/match (high school, college, professional) all together. Set up a fun match between the participants and a local team.
- Talk about American cultural and religious celebrations. Celebrate U.S. holidays with families and community groups. Talk about the meaning of the day.
- Talk about American cultural expression. What music/dance is unique to the host region (country, western, jazz, local high school bands, square dance lessons, etc.)? Arrange dance classes and dance-offs and go to a show. Give the participant a chance to share and compare his/her culture.
- Talk about American theater and arts throughout our history and today; create a theater club. Theater is a great expression of societal values – and conflict. Check out the local and school theater schedules and schedule theater outings regularly throughout the program. Combine the outings with dessert discussions about the playwright, play and themes.
- Everybody loves to eat! Organize a series of American culinary evenings where participants can learn to cook and eat the results! Use food as a conversation thread to talk about American traditions, customs and history. Share the recipes and include some cross-cultural evenings for visitors to share and teach their own culinary traditions.”
In addition, the following exchange opportunities can be easily integrated into an exchange visitor’s time in the unit:
- Campus tours, or tours of local landmarks or historical districts
- Departmental luncheons, happy hours, or other events
- Campus cultural events, including Dawg Daze and musical or theater performances
- Academic conferences
- Husky sporting events
- Visits to museums on campus, including the Burke Museum and the Henry Art Gallery
- Shared athletic activities, such as kayaking trips through the Montlake Cut or bike rides on the Burke-Gilman Trail
International Scholars Operations also encourages individual exchange visitors to seek out additional opportunities for exchange outside of their sponsoring department. The organizations listed below offer such opportunities:
- The Whole U
- Visiting Seattle (City of Seattle official website)
- Visit Seattle (commercial website)
- Experience Washington
Unit administrators should feel free to contact ISO with any questions about the cross-cultural exchange component of the J-1 exchange visitor program.